The Seamstress – second version

Photo by Suzy Hazelwood on

My first memories are of mother singing, while working backbreaking labour to make cloth and clothes, a living.
She tended sheep for wool. Worked the fields for cotton and flax. Studied by candlelight; nimble fingers at the spindle or loom, on plants for true dyes, how to operate hothouses for silkworms.

I picked the skills alongside the usual walking, talking, growing. By my eight summer, I was the second best seamstress in The Nine Villages.

Mother decided she had nothing more to teach, so she set about finding an apprenticeship. Tenacious and fearless, she worked every wealthy customer she’d ever had, until an Dutch fashion house replied.

Preparations ensued. Train and boat timetables studied, then tickets procured. New clothes measured and sown. A new trunk, valise and writing desk bought. A hat, I never wore a hat before.

As summer became autumn, harvest took every waking hour. There where cotton to pick, flax to beat until soft, potatoes, carrots and turnips to dig up. Each night I fell into a tiered stupor, dreaming of big steam engines, even bigger boats, a metropolitan filled with canals and worldly people. All the things I, who haven’t been beyond The Nine Villages, where soon to experience.

Then awoke to mothers breakfast litany “…always remember to measure twice, both consumer and pattern, before ever cutting cloth”

When the harvest moon rose full over the henge. The villages gathered to celebrate. Big bonfires, tables laden with food, cakes and sweets. Barrels of ale and cider.
The grateful evocation to the Goddess for Her Plentiful Bounty.
And I had one last familiar tradition before departure.

© RedCat

Next lesson in WRITER’S WORKSHOP I, Week 2, Batting Practice.

My first version had 299 words, this one has 269. I revised this a lot like I revise poetry. By looking for non-essential words. I also tried to me mindful of the advise below.

Take the piece you wrote for the prompt, “measure twice, cut once,” and try to cut at least 10% of your word count. Remember to look for places where you can alter your phrasing to give the sentence clarity. Rephrase your adverb descriptors: very funny = hysterical, very pretty = beautiful, very hungry = famished. Simplify confusing sentences, and they will impact your audience. You are crafting this version FOR your audience. Have fun and feel free to comment on your approach to this challenge.

4 thoughts on “The Seamstress – second version

Add yours

  1. Wonderful job! I love how you maintained the rich detail from the first version while sharpening your prose. For example:

    “My first memories are of my mother singing as she worked backbreaking labour to make cloth and clothes, a living for her brood.”


    “My first memories are of mother singing, while working backbreaking labour to make cloth and clothes, a living.”

    The revised version feels personal. As a reader, I am drawn inside the protagonist and feeling the memory along with her, not just observing it from the outside. That is powerful writing. Excellent.

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